METALS Capstone Sponsor, MARi, finalist in Reach Higher Learning Career App Challenge

August 15, 2016
METALS student Kathy Yu

It's not everyday that a Human-Computer Interaction Institute (HCII) capstone project brings you to the White House to present your work, but that's what happened for Masters of Educational Technology and Applied Learning Science (METALS) student Kathy Yu. On July 7, 2016, Yu, HCII Assistant Professor John Stamper, and capstone sponsor John Carney joined four other teams at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, located just west of the White House to present a mobile application solution for the Reach Higher Learning Career App challenge.

The Reach Higher App challenge was to provide solutions to help middle and high school students understand and navigate education and career pathways while addressing the shortage of career counselors.

This proved to be an ideal challenge for MARi, a school and career coach app, and its METALS student team, Team Cobalt. They worked closely with MARi to create an engaging mobile experience that guides students from where they are today in their academic path to where a student strives to be in professionally or further along in academia. The resulting app was the culmination of seven months of literature research, user interviews, users’ needs discovery, design iterations, and usability testing. Many of the METALS students' research and insights were critical improvements to the solution presented at the Reach Higher App challenge.

"I thought my capstone experience would be like any other project with all work ending up in a presentation or report that no one ever remembered or benefited from except for the members themselves," said METALS student Kathy Yu. "It was a very new experience for me to see my regular schoolwork being ground-breaking work for an actual company (or even the US Government)."

The mobile solution MARi and METALS Capstone Team Cobalt presented utilizes assessments, capability mapping, virtual job shadowing, and achievement validation to help students identify and prepare for their careers. MARi's mobile app provides critical academic and career guidance, which has become increasingly harder for students to receive as guidance counselors and educational and career information becomes harder to access.

"We passionately believe that all students have such amazing potential within themselves. And, we have seen the transformative power of data when, through an app, students can see how they are progressing to both academic and skill-related goals that they have chosen," stated John Carney in a Q&A for the challenge.

A team of judges from the Reach Higher challenge will select one winner among the five finalists later this summer. Team Cobalt has worked diligently and completed the remainder of their project this past early August.

For more information on METALS Capstone Team Cobalt, visit their webpage at: http://metals-cobalt.com/